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Emergency Hacks for Your Thanksgiving Dinner

As much as you may plan your meal on Thanksgiving, there can always be a situation where you find you run out of one ingredient you may need. Williams-Sonoma has put together a few hacks for you for items you can use in a pinch if you run out of something like buttermilk or cornstarch. Check it out!

Emergency Hacks for Your Thanksgiving Meal

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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Cooking, Cooking Tips, Cooking Websites, Dinner, Holidays

 

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A Perfect Shout Out for Cooler Weather – Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

As much as summer may be trying to hang on here in the last few days of September, there have been some very cool nights here lately, making it feel much more like fall now. It is nice to have the window open in the evening to feel the cool air instead of the air conditioning. It is also a great sign that cooking more things like soups, stews and braises is right on the horizon. I have already started in on making some fall like dinners when I have had the chance to. One meal I particularly enjoy is short ribs. Unfortunately, as is the case with many of the meats that you find for sale today, short ribs tend to be very expensive, particularly if you are looking to feed several people. I had purchased some as part of a package of fresh meat I had purchased from Bishop Farms at a farmers market not that long ago so I had more than enough on hand to feed the three of us. I had been saving this recipe that I had found from Williams-Sonoma for braised short ribs with a creamy polenta and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 pounds bone in, individual-cut short ribs

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups red wine

3 cups beef stock or broth

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

1 bay leaf

1 cup milk

1 1/3 cups quick-cooking polenta

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt and the pepper. In batches so you can avoid overcrowding, and the short ribs to the pot and cook, turning occasionally, until the short ribs are browned on all sides, about 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer the short ribs to a separate plate.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and heat it. Add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about one minute. Sprinkle in the all-purpose flour and stir it well. Slowly stir in the red wine, then the beef stock. Stir in the tomato paste, rosemary and bay leaf. Return the short ribs to the pot. The short ribs should be barely covered with liquid. If not, add hot water as needed. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot, place the pot in the oven, and cook the short ribs, moving the position of the ribs every forty-five minutes or so to be sure that they are covered with liquid and are cooking evenly, until the short ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Transfer the short ribs to a deep serving platter (do not worry if the meat separates from the bones; this should happen), and tent the platter with aluminum foil to keep the short ribs warm.

Let the cooking liquid stand for five minutes. Skim off the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid and discard the fat. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is reduced by about one-fourth, about 10 to 12 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Return the short ribs to the pot.

Just before serving, make the polenta: In a heavy saucepan, bring 3 cups of water, the milk and the remaining 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to a boil over high heat. Slowly whisk in the polenta and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, whisking often, until the polenta is thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Divide the polenta among warmed serving bowls or plates, top the polenta with the short ribs and the sauce and serve at once.

A meal like this involving short ribs is pretty elegant and since it takes quite a lot of time to cook, it is likely something you are going to want to save to use for a Sunday dinner or another meal on the weekend. The recipe itself is fairly basic but the short ribs take on a great deal of flavor and as the fat in the short ribs starts to break down the meat becomes more tender and succulent. The gravy adds just the right touch to the short ribs and tastes great when served over the polenta. If you did not want to have polenta, you could just as easily substitute mashed potatoes or even rice if you prefer, but the polenta seems to go really well with this type of meal. This is a great one to do when you are having people over as the recipe indicated serves six. I did halve the recipe so it was better suited for just three of us and we still had some leftovers. The leftover short ribs are great to use for a whole bunch of different meals. You can easily remove the meat from the bones and shredded and use the meat for things like tacos or put it back in the sauce and just serve it over rice or pasta. I served this with some Brussels sprouts and some homemade bread to complete the meal.

That is all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on September 28, 2016 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner

 

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Decadent, Delightful and Delicious – White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

I am not much of a baker myself but I do like to try to make things every now and then beyond the pies that I make. That being said, there are people I know that are much better at baking and do things a lot more extravagant than I can do. It has to be a recipe that really interests me for me to want to venture over to the baking side and make things, but it does happen now and then. That is what happened when I saw this recipe from Williams-Sonoma for white chocolate raspberry cupcakes with a raspberry butter cream. They just looked too good not to try to when I looked over the recipe it looked like something that I could actually make a pretty good go of without trouble. I actually combined this recipe with a recipe I saw for raspberry buttercream because I wanted to have a more predominant color to the frosting.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream

For the cupcakes:

2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (8 oz./250 g) granulated sugar

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) milk, at room temperature

2 oz. (60 g) white chocolate, chopped and melted

1 container (6 oz./185 g) fresh raspberries

For the raspberry buttercream:

1 cup fresh raspberries

½ cup butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

Chunk of white chocolate, for shaving (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.

To make the cupcakes, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg whites and beat until they are blended, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the milk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat the mixture just until it is combined. Stir in the white chocolate just until it is blended, then gently fold in the raspberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing the batter evenly among the cups.

Bake the cupcakes until they are puffed and light golden and the center springs back slightly when touched, about 25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

To make the raspberry buttercream, add  the raspberries to a food processor. Pulse the raspberries  until they become a thick sauce. Push the raspberry puree through a sieve to extract the juice and get rid of the seeds. Set the raspberry sauce aside.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on high for about 2-3 minutes to get a creamy fluffy texture. Add in the powdered sugar and raspberry sauce on low-speed until they are combined. If the frosting is too runny add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick add some milk.

Spoon the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes. Shave curls from the chunk of white chocolate and sprinkle over the cupcakes if desired or top with a fresh raspberry, if desired.

The cupcakes can be stored on the counter at room temperature for a day or two and in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

I admit it was a bit of work to get the raspberry sauce through a sieve to get all of the seeds out but the hard work is well worth it to give you a smooth raspberry sauce for the frosting. These cupcakes are very tasty, with the raspberry and white chocolate shining through. If you prefer to have cupcakes without a whole raspberry inside, you could certainly take the whole raspberries and make a sauce from them and then pipe it into the center of the cupcakes so you get the raspberry flavor without the whole raspberry in there, but I liked it with the raspberry inside. I think they came out well and tasted better being in the refrigerator where the buttercream firmed up and had a great texture. This makes a great summer dessert as an alternative to making a cake or pie.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Make it Simple, Make it Fast – Stir-Fried Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas and Mushrooms

The mantra for me right now has been busy, busy, busy. It seems like every time I might have an easy day coming up something pops along to disrupt it. I guess it’s a good thing when it’s work because it at least means I am staying busy instead of trying to scrounge around for more work. Anyway, all of the busy days means trying to find fast and simple dinners more and more, especially when Michelle is away and it is just Sean and I for dinner. I try not to do takeout dinners if I can avoid it, which makes dinners like this one great because they are easy to do with just a few ingredients and cost less than getting fast food, pizza, Chinese or going to some other casual restaurant. This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma and is for stir-fried shrimp with snow peas and mushrooms and makes use of really basic ingredients and is done in under twenty minutes, including time to make some rice to go with it.

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas and Mushrooms

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon light soy sauce or tamari

Salt

2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

1/2 pound mixed fresh mushrooms, such oyster or cremini

1/2 pound sugar snap peas, halved crosswise

2 green onions, white and tender green parts, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons rice wine or sherry

Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

Cooked white rice for serving

In a non-reactive bowl, combine the shrimp, sesame oil, soy sauce or tamari and 1 teaspoon of salt. toss the ingredients gently to coat the shrimp.

In a wok or large frying pan, heat the peanut or canola oil over medium-high heat until it is just smoking. Add the garlic, ginger and shrimp and stir-fry the ingredients until the shrimp are evenly pink on both sides, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and transfer it to a separate bowl.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry them over medium-high heat until they are softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and stir-fry until the peas are a bright green, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the green onions and the rice wine or sherry. Cover the pan and cook until the snap peas are crisp-tender, about 2 to 3 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir-fry the shrimp just until they are heated through, about 1 minute. Garnish the stir-fry with the cilantro leaves and serve with the white rice.

It is a great, fresh dish that comes together very quickly. Shrimp cooks very quickly when you stir-fry it so you want to watch it carefully so you do not overcook it and make it rubbery. The sauce gives some great flavor to the shrimp and the simple mix of the snap peas and mushrooms are all you really need to round out the dish. Sean and I both really enjoyed it and I was able to have the leftovers for lunch the next day and they seemed even better after the shrimp had a chance to really absorb the sauce. I think it would be great with chicken or pork as well or even just with some extra vegetables and use the mushrooms as your main source of protein.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Cooking, Dinner, Seafood, Stir Fry, Vegetables

 

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A week of Side Dishes, Part One – Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Zest

As the snow starts to fall here as we get pummeled with the 1st blizzard of 2015 in my area of New York, I have been going through some of the recipes of things I have made lately and I realize I have a lot of side dishes that I have done recipes for that I have not posted on here yet. So I decided for this week I will post a different side recipe each day to give you some ideas of different things that you can try with your main dishes. The first one, from Williams-Sonoma, is for a roasted asparagus with balsamic glaze and lemon zest. Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables around here so we do try to make use of it quite often and I have found that roasting it is one of my favorite ways to make it. The great thing about asparagus is that you can use it in a bunch of different ways and for several different kinds of meals. This one in particular can go pretty well with just about anything and is really simple to make any night of the week.

 

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Glaze and Lemon Zest

20 to 25 asparagus spears, tough ends removed

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 450°. Spread the asparagus in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle the asparagus with the balsamic vinegar and the olive oil, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Turn the asparagus spears several times to make sure they are all coated evenly. Roast the asparagus for 10 minutes, turning them from time to time. Remove the asparagus from the oven, sprinkle the asparagus with the lemon zest and turn the spears several times. Return the asparagus to the oven and continue to roasted until the spears are crisp-tender and the color has darkened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and serve immediately. Or, let the asparagus cool, then cover with aluminum foil and allow it to stand at room temperature for up to one hour before serving.

 

I find that when you roast asparagus it really brings out the great flavor of the vegetable and with this recipe the balsamic vinegar in the lemon zest really add some extra punch to the dish. I think this side dish goes really well with just about any type of beef that you might serve, but it also would work great with poultry, pork or fish. Many people often serve asparagus as part of an appetizer before the meal if you are serving a more elegant dinner or even serve asparagus as part of a brunch, and this recipe could work well for either situation. 25 asparagus spears might sound like a lot, but it really does not go very far and this recipe is perfect for 3 or 4 people. We did not even have any leftovers when I served this one myself. You can serve the asparagus warm right out of the oven or let it cool to room temperature, which is the way a lot of people like it. Personally I prefer it hot but it tastes great either way.

 

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day, stay warm and out of the snow, and enjoy your meal!

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Butter Up Some Cinnamon-Raisin Swirl Breakfast Loaf

For me, many mornings for breakfast are nothing more than a cup of coffee and a piece of fruit, but occasionally I also love to have a piece of toast along with it. It does not matter to me if it is an English muffin, a bagel, a roll or a piece of any kind of bread, I just really like to have a piece of toast, particularly with an egg, for breakfast. Ever since I was a kid I always really enjoyed cinnamon raisin bread as a piece of toast. That warm bread with the warm, plumped up raisins and the hint of cinnamon across the bread just smells great while it is toasting and tastes even better with a little bit of soft butter on it. This made me want to try to make my own cinnamon raisin bread so we could have some for Christmas morning this year after we opened presents. I found this recipe from Williams-Sonoma and it seemed to fit everything perfectly, so I gave it a try.

Cinnamon-Raisin-Swirl Breakfast Loaf

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast

3 cups bread flour, or as needed

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1/2 cup of cold water, the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter and the yeast. Add 2 1/2 cups of the bread flour and the salt. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add enough of the remaining to make a soft dough that does not stick to the bowl. Remove the paddle attachment and fit the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is smooth but soft, about 6 to 7 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball.

Lightly butter a large bowl and add the dough and turn to coat it with the butter. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll out the dough into a 9-inch square. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, the raisins and the remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around all sides. Roll up the dough into a log and pinch the seam to seal it. Transfer the dough to the loaf pan, seam side, and lightly press the top of the dough to evenly fill the pan. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough stand in a warm spot until the dough rises to the top of the pan, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the loaf gently with the melted butter. bake the bread until the top of the loaf is golden brown and the bottom, when the loaf is carefully removed from the pan, sounds hollow when rapped on the bottom with your knuckles, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert the loaf onto the rack, then invert it again and let it cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

The bread came out perfectly and let it sit overnight, wrapped, before slicing it on Christmas morning and it sliced perfectly. There was a nice swirl throughout the bread and the bread had great chew and texture with a nice crust. Of course, the true test for me was when it was toasted and it was perfect. I loved the smell of the bread as it was baking in the oven, but it seemed even better in the toaster and made great toast for Christmas morning. I would make this bread any time as it was pretty easy to do and turned out a great loaf.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Breads, Breakfast, Cooking

 

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Kid Friendly and a Healthier Option – Oven Fried Shrimp

Any time that  I get some shrimp Sean is always asking me to make fried shrimp. Not that I don’t like fried shrimp, I love it myself; the problem is that I hate cooking with all of that oil from a health standpoint and clean up standpoint and there are other ways to cook shrimp that I love as well. He however, has a hang up on fried shrimp so when Michelle is traveling, I very often will get some shrimp and make something for dinner (Michelle likes shrimp, but they are not a favorite of hers, so she would just as soon not have them anyway). I had seen some recipes for oven fried shrimp before but none of them ever really looked like the breading or coating held up that well or cooked well so you got a good coating on them until I saw this recipe from Williams-Sonoma for oven fried shrimp. The picture looked pretty good and the recipe seemed simple enough, so I thought I would give it a try.

Oven Fried Shrimp

1 cup ketchup-style chili sauce or ketchup

2 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Hot pepper sauce

1 1/4 cups panko or other dried breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

To make the cocktail sauce, stir together the chili sauce or ketchup, the horseradish and the melon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season the sauce with hot pepper sauce to taste. Set the cocktail sauce aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet. In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, paprika, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. In another bowl, mix together the melted butter and the olive oil. Working in batches, toss the shrimp in the butter mixture to coat it well and then coat the shrimp with the bread crumb mixture, shaking off any excess. Spread the shrimp in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the shrimp until the coating is golden brown and the shrimp are opaque throughout when they are pierced with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the cocktail sauce to individual small bowls for dipping. Serve the shrimp with the sauce on the side.

This is very simple and turns out a pretty good coating for the shrimp. I used basic bread crumbs, but I think the coating would be even better with panko and will try it that way next time to see how it is. If you wanted to jazz things up a bit and make these coconut shrimp, you could try mixing in some shredded coconut with the breadcrumb mixture or even substituting it completely for the bread crumbs and following the recipe as indicated. Personally, I am not a fan of coconut myself, but a lot of people love the coconut shrimp. You can then make or buy your favorite sweet chili sauce for dipping instead of the cocktail sauce. I made this as our entrée for the meal and served it with some rice and vegetables, but it would be a great appetizer for any time. I liked the shrimp and the cocktail sauce in this one and Sean gobbled these up as well, so I think the recipe is a pretty good alternative to frying the shrimp and using all of that oil.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

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Posted by on November 5, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Dinner, Sauce, Seafood

 

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Jennifer Probst

a little bit naughty a little bit nice

Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

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